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Racial Equity Impact Analysis (REIA)

The Racial Equity Impact Analysis helps the City consider racial equity outcomes when shaping policies, practices, programs and budgets.
Rethinking I-94 Project - REIA

Section 1: Background
Public Safety No
Housing No
Economic Development No
Public Services No
Environmental Justice Yes
Built Environment & Transportation Yes
Public Health Yes
Arts & Culture No
Workforce No
Spending No
Data No
Community Engagement Yes

The desired outcome of this resolution is to express the goals of the City of Minneapolis for the “Rethinking I-94” project, led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with the ultimate desired outcome of reducing the inequitable negative impacts of I-94 on Minneapolis neighborhoods, which are disproportionately home to people of color.

By passing this resolution, the City will go on record with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, articulating the following positions for the “Rethinking I-94” project:

  • The City of Minneapolis strongly opposes the repair or reconstruction of I-94 in its current form and categorically rejects any roadway expansion within its boundaries or any right of way expansion.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must include Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service connecting the two downtowns and serving additional intermediate stations enroute by converting an existing lane to a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane, and include an online station at Snelling Ave to connect to the METRO A Line and a station serving the University of Minnesota should also be considered and reinstate the transit advantage that had existed prior to the 35W bridge collapse as an interim solution and on a more immediate timeline.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must avoid or fully mitigate any negative impacts to livability, safety or environmental burden to adjacent and connecting neighborhoods.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must take a systems-level approach to planning for the corridor such that mode shift from single occupancy vehicles is not only encouraged, it becomes the easy choice through the creation of safe and comfortable non-motorized connections and strategically placed mobility hubs that provide access to shared-use bikes, scooters, transit and car-share and that serve to close the “last-mile” that is often the biggest barrier to mode shift.
  • Parties to the Rethinking I-94 project must analyze existing structural barriers to walking, biking and transit access that result from the freeway and provide recommendations to repair those harms, improve access, reduce levels of tire wear emissions, traffic noise, difficult pedestrian crossings on feeder roads, and increase equity in our transportation system for those in the I-94 corridor who are most negatively impacted and in need.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must provide continuous bicycle/walking connections over the freeway from Ayd Mill Road in Saint Paul to a future Prospect Park Trail to 27th Ave SE, improving the pedestrian bridge at Seymour Place as part of the All Ages and Abilities Network, an improved pedestrian bridge near 22nd Ave S and a future extension of the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must minimize impact and crash-related fatalities and injuries for all transportation users and pedestrians in the study corridor.
  • The Rethinking I-94 project must redesign the highway corridor to prioritize healthy, safe, affordable, accessible, and equitable mobility.

Together, these positions advance the City’s articulated environmental justice, built form and transportation, and public health goals. The resolution is a necessary step to help bring the state government-led “Rethinking I-94” project into alignment with the City’s adopted goals.

Staff for Council Members Cam Gordon and Jamal Osman coauthors of the resolution.

Section 2: Data

The neighborhoods adjacent to and most directly impacted by I-94 are Cedar Riverside, Elliot Park, Harrison, Hawthorne, Lind-Bohanon, Loring Park, Lowry Hill, McKinley, Near North, North Loop, Prospect Park, Seward, Stevens Square, Sumner-Glenwood, Ventura Village, and Webber-Camden.

The population of those neighborhoods is: 96,670
The percent by race in these neighborhoods:

  • White: 49.5%
  • Black of African American: 31.5%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: <1%
  • Asian: 4.9%
  • Two or more races: 4.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 6%

People of color make up a significantly higher percentage of the population of these neighborhoods than the city as a whole:

  • White: 63.8%
  • Black of African American: 19.4%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native: 1.4%
  • Asian: 6.1%
  • Two or more races: 4.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 9.6%

It is also important to note that people in these neighborhoods are significantly likelier than residents of the city as a whole to be immigrants: 20% of the residents of these neighborhoods are foreign born, compared to 15.7% in Minneapolis as a whole.

Considerable work has been done through the 2040 Comprehensive Plan process to identify the environmental injustices that have been created by the freeway system. This information can be found in Policy 48, Freeway Remediation, in the Transportation topic of the Plan:

As the plan notes, freeways, including I-94, did considerable harm to the neighborhoods they cut through. The plan states that “in recent years, the disparate impact of the interstate highway system on poor people of color is getting more attention, and more cities across the United States have been developing policies and strategies to repair the damage done by the freeways built in their communities.”

It is clear that the environmental, health, and other negative impacts of freeways fall disproportionately on people of color in Minneapolis. It is also clear that people of color are less likely than white people to benefit directly from freeways. There is a significant disparity in vehicle ownership in the Twin Cities region: 16% of people of color do not own a vehicle, compared with only 6% of white people.

The available data is sufficient for the action proposed.
Section 3: Community Engagement
Inform Yes
Consult Yes
Involve No
Collaborate No
Empower No

A draft of this resolution was presented to Council Members Gordon and Osman by neighborhood-based advocates for transportation equity. It has been presented to some of the impacted neighborhoods. We have heard support for the proposed resolution.

This action builds on considerable community engagement work led by Seward Redesign, culminating in the Reconnecting Neighborhoods report, available here:

Section 4: Analysis

As noted above, the 2040 Comprehensive Plan includes a policy on Freeway Mitigation. That policy includes the following action steps:

“The City will seek to accomplish the following action steps to recover and repurpose space taken by construction of the interstate highway system in Minneapolis and use it to reconnect neighborhoods and provide needed housing, employment, greenspace, clean energy and other amenities consistent with City goals.

The Freeway Remediation action steps of the plan include:

  • Work with the state of Minnesota and other partners to analyze and mitigate the negative effects of the highway system in Minneapolis.
  • Identify possible locations where land bridges and freeway lids can be used over portions of the interstate highway system for housing, commercial, or transit purposes.
  • Consider the removal of portions of freeways, including some exit and entrance ramps, to better connect communities and open land for development.
  • Explore options for how private development could support the construction of freeway lids or covers and other mitigations.
  • Support initiatives to reconnect neighborhoods separated by freeways, in partnership with MnDOT and other stakeholders, including improvements and replacements to pedestrian and multi-use bridges.”
Section 5: Evaluation

This resolution is asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation to change its preferred course of action with the Rethinking I-94 Project. We have a significantly limited capacity to control how MNDOT chooses to proceed in reaction to this resolution. However, a few soft success indicators would be MNDOT acknowledging the impacted community preferences stated in this resolution in their future project design and community engagement.

The Ward 2 and Ward 6 offices will receive updates on the Rethinking I-94 Project and do our part to disseminate the information throughout the impacted communities we represent. We will also encourage MNDOT staff conducting the engagement work around this project to maintain lines of communication with community-based organizations to assist in dissemination of information on progress over time.